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An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Great Career

Eastern’s new Public Health Program focuses on community wellness

If you’re interested in a career that helps prevent disease outbreaks, keeps families and communities healthy, and is sought after worldwide, then Eastern has the major for you.

Eastern’s Public Health Program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree offered by the School of Health Sciences, focuses on promoting wellness and protecting the health of people and the communities where they live, work and play. While doctors mainly treat people who are already sick, public health professionals focus on encouraging healthy behavior and preventing people from becoming sick or injured.

Eastern launched the undergraduate program in the Fall 2014 semester.

“Lots of students are interested in health-related professions, but not everyone wants to pursue a medical degree,” says EMU Professor of Health Education and Health Education Program Coordinator Kathleen Conley. “More universities are beginning to offer public health degrees. We wanted to present the same opportunities to Eastern students.”

What separates Eastern’s program from others offered regionally is the opportunity to select one of two specialized career tracks: Community Health Education or Health Administration.

“Students who choose the Community Health curriculum learn how to assess the needs and capacities of communities to prevent disease or increase well-being,” Conley says. “Graduates can work in a variety of fields. Some might work with communications teams to promote safety messages to the public in the event of a natural disaster. Others might promote vaccination programs or advocate for laws to protect people from tobacco smoke.”

Faculty quoteEMU Assistant Professor of Health Administration Sarah Walsh adds that students who choose the Health Administration track study the management side of public health programs, services and agencies.

“Health Administration students learn how to design and run health programs that help people live healthier lives,” Walsh says. “Regardless of which track students choose, they will be introduced to both the public and health management side of wellness. This is entirely appropriate, since the goal is the same for both tracks: improving the health of populations.”

Public health professionals are in-demand. Employment opportunities for health educators and public health administrators are projected to grow 21 percent through 2022, faster than average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Time magazine recently placed “Health-and-Wellness Educator” on its list of “The 5 Best Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of.”

“Public health has literally changed the world over the past 100 years,” Walsh says. “The increase in human lifespan we’ve experienced is due mainly to things like vaccinations, community access to fresh water, sanitation programs and pollution control. All of these advancements evolved from public health programs. We’re really excited to see what the next generation of public health professionals will achieve. The opportunities are available locally and globally. It’s a super-rewarding field that’s pretty darn marketable—that’s a great combination.”

Visit the Public Health Program web page to learn more about admission requirements, core courses and the two elective tracks for this major. You can also contact the School of Health Sciences at 734.487.4096 for more information.

Public Health Professionals are in high demand